Just don't mention Alan

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Ah-a! The home of Alan Partridge...That's quite enough of that. While we all chuckled at Steve Coogan's failed fictitious TV and radio presenter, the good folk of Norwich failed to see the funny side. Last year, a local councillor even blamed Alan Partridge for the city's failure to make the European Capital of Culture 2008 shortlist.

Is Norwich a nice place to live?

This fine city dates back to Saxon times and by the 16th century it was the second city in England. Norwich has more medieval churches than any other city in Western Europe - at one time it was said to have a church for every week of the year and pub for every day.

When can I start? Are there many teaching vacancies?

According to Norfolk education authority, schools in the heart of Norwich have little difficulty recruiting, though they could use more English, maths and science teachers. Schools in other parts of the county such as Great Yarmouth or Kings Lynn have more difficulty finding teachers. "Some of our secondary schools are small by national standards and are out on the Norfolk coast," said the LEA's recruitment strategy manager Gillian Boon.

"Perhaps not the areas that young teachers would want to live in. They want the bright lights and the big city."

What is the LEA like?

Traditionally, the county has had three-tier schools. It is now reorganising and there's currently a consultation to do away with middle schools.

Consequently, the greater Norwich area has a confusing mix of schools - one nursery, one infants' school, one junior, 15 primary, 46 first schools, 31 middle, one combined first and middle, 13 high schools and five special schools.

The education authority also says its schools are happy ships, largely because of an initiative called the Norfolk Education Staff Wellbeing Programme.

Does it mean group hugs in the staff room?

Not quite - the programme does aim to create a happy working environment and promote staff wellbeing in more than 450 schools and education authority services. "Schools have got rid of the blame culture," said Gillian Boon."They do a lot of collaborative work to save time and address workload issues. It's an entirely supportive regime."

The initiative followed a survey which revealed that staff in the county's schools experienced higher levels of stress than most other county employees. Teachers suffered more than those in non-teaching roles, and heads were the most stressed of all.

So is there much to do to let off steam?

Norwich has long been famed for its vast numbers of pubs. It also has three theatres, three cinemas and a range of clubs and restaurants, a world-renowned music festival and a modern art gallery.

In support of the city's Capital of Culture bid, Stephen Fry wrote:

"Norwich is not now, nor ever has been, a twee provincial backwater. It has a cafe society, an adventurism and an openness to the newI " Can I afford to live there?

The average price of a semi-detached house in Norwich is pound;120,429, while a terraced house is pound;112,267, a flat or maisonette is pound;98,739, and a detached house goes for pound;177,192.

Famous sons, daughters?

Food writer and director of Norwich City FC Delia Smith; writer Malcolm Bradbury taught at the University of East Anglia; and if we can't mention Alan Partridge, let's at least hear it for education secretary Charles Clarke who is MP for Norwich South.

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